The Natural History of Texas

The Natural History of Texas

The Natural History of Texas

The Natural History of Texas


From two veteran ecologists comes a new and sweeping exploration of the natural history of Texas in all its biological diversity and geological variation. Few states, if any, can match Texas for its myriad species, past and present, and its many distinctive landscapes, from prairie grasslands and hardwood forests to coastal lagoons and desert mountains.

Beginning with the stories of how biologists and naturalists have over time defined the ecological areas of this very big state, the authors visit each of the eleven regions, including the Texas coast. They describe the dominant flora and fauna of each, explain the defining geologic features, and highlight each region’s unique characteristics, such as carnivorous plants in the Piney Woods and returning black bears in the Trans-Pecos.

Throughout, the authors remain especially conscious of the conservation and management issues affecting the natural resources of each region, revealing their deep affection for and knowledge about the state. Bolstered by a glossary, further reading suggestions, a description of state symbols, and an appendix of scientific names, this is an educational and essential volume for all Texans.


Not long ago, my wife, Nona, and I spent the weekend at Hershey Ranch near Stonewall in the Hill Country and finished off on Sunday at a farm near Manor on the east side of Austin in the Blackland Prairie. As we came down from the Balcones Escarpment and into the cornfields, I was reminded once again of the Lone Star State’s sensational natural diversity and the striking contrast one often experiences when moving from one ecological region to another.

I was introduced to the wonderful diversity of the Texas landscape when I was a child growing up on the Gulf Coast, and my folks would take us each summer to an old family lodge on the Guadalupe River above Kerrville on the Edwards Plateau. There the contrast with our home ground was refreshing, particularly in the cool clear waters of one of the most iconic rivers of Texas. Later, as an undergraduate at Texas Tech University, I discovered the stark beauty of both the Texas High Plains and the stunning canyons, which are among the most beautiful in America.

As an adult, I had the great privilege of working for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, and in that capacity, I developed a full appreciation of the biogeographic provinces of Texas, which make our state one of the most biologically diverse in the country.

To date, no work has more elaborately described the remarkable biodiversity of Texas than this monumental volume by Brian R. Chapman, senior research scientist at the Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies at Sam Houston State University, and Eric G. Bolen, professor emeritus of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Here in these pages, Chapman and Bolen carefully detail the biological constituents of each of the ecoregions of Texas and, in often eloquent prose, create a historical context for interpreting and understanding them and their place in the state’s rich natural history. More importantly, this work is an essential guide for those who seek to protect the richness of the Texas landscape from the unprecedented population growth that will double the number of Texans in the next 50 years.

This explosive population expansion contributes to the greatest threat to the natural diversity of . . .

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